Buffalo School Board Elections

Catherine Collins: taxpayer-funded glamor shot?

Catherine Collins: taxpayer-funded glamor shot?

The Buffalo School Board elections are tomorrow, Tuesday May 5th.  Three at-large seats on the 9-member board will be up for grabs tomorrow.  You should vote, and you should kick the incumbents out on their collective ass.

CEJ has been all over this issue, and they’ve put together a candidate questionnaire.

Business groups and entrenched politicians have spent more than $30,000 in an effort to retain the current at-large board members — Chris Jacobs, Catherine Collins, and Florence Johnson.  This support comes despite — or perhaps because of — the fact that these three board members are at the heart of the corruption and ineffectiveness that have marked the board in recent memory.  For instance, the board has spent some $33,000 on meals and snacks for itself over the last 18 months:

Last week, for instance, they could choose from egg rolls, shrimp lo mein, General Tso’s chicken, pepper steak, sesame chicken, cheesecake, cookies and flan, among other goodies, before they sat down to discuss finance matters.

Other weeks, board members enjoy meatballs, turkey, chicken, potatoes, corn and salad. Sometimes, it’s steak fajitas and chicken wings.

Besides the $300 or so that’s spent each week on meals for the board and administrators who stay late for meetings, another $100 a week keeps the board’s kitchen in City Hall stocked with soft drinks, chips and cookies.

There are two issues here.  First, the obvious fact that gainfully employed adults can feed themselves rather than gorging at a taxpayer-funded smorgasbord.  But second, and more interestingly, these Board of Ed buffets are being catered by a woman named Joyce Livingston.  This seems odd, since board members could keep their business within the school system — and save money — by having their meetings catered by Emerson Commons, the culinary arts high school on Chippewa that runs its own restautrant and catering service.  Who wants to bet that Joyce Livingston knows someone in City Hall?

Beyond that, we’re paying to send these people to conferences around the country with little apparent benefit to the district.  Collins is one of the worst offenders, racking up more than $14,000 in expenses for 9 trips over the previous 18 months.  Johnson has taken “only” 4 such taxpayer-supported vacations, while Jacobs — the son of a billionaire — has spared the district and used Daddy’s money, instead.

Ok, the board may be full of greedy leeches, but what kind of job are they doing?  Remember the Jayvonna Kincannon fiasco? Or how about the decision to give ResultTech millions of dollars to run an alternative school, despite achieving a 100% failure rate with its 8th grade students?

These people are free to continue ripping us off because turnout is so low for school board elections.  If we let it continue, we have no one to blame but ourselves.


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3 Responses to “Buffalo School Board Elections”

  1. Rebecca Says:

    Good call on the Emerson Commons. It’s only three blocks from City Hall.

  2. joe Says:

    Yes, they often eat in at the Emerson Commons. It is interesting to see how King James meets there to eat with one group separately and then later with others like Hernandez, Penepinto, etc.

  3. eagercolin Says:

    I used to work at Emerson Commons, and you’re right, school board folks were in there all the time for functions or just for lunch. That they would give the board meeting catering “contract” — is there one? — to some individual seems pretty fishy.

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